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Case Study: Edinburgh: A town decides

view of tram design

The proposed trams might look like this

The city of Edinburgh is investing in a multi-million pound new tram system. Read more details with video of the trams here. Social, ethical, environmental and economical issues being discussed by the City Council include:

  • how trams create less pollution than cars
  • where people live and how they will travel to work
  • whether the trams will be affordable
  • the cost of the new network
  • the disruption to business and the environment of creating a tram system

The City Council's business case published in December 2006 states that a tram network will provide Edinburgh with the core of a fully integrated public transport system that meets demand and future growth.

What trams could look like in Constitution Street

Click to enlarge

The total cost of the tram network stretching from the airport across Edinburgh is estimated at £592m and the system should be operational by 2009. A cost benefit analysis carried out for the Council estimates that every £1 spent on introducing trams will provide £1.63 of benefits to Edinburgh:

The trams will result in reduced traffic congestion in major travel corridors enabling people to be more productive as they waste less time in traffic jams. Fewer people driving into the city will lead to less vehicle emissions and improved local air quality. Local residents will have better access to employment and recreation in different areas of the City and be less likely to need cars.

Having the tram system in place will act as a catalyst for regeneration of
brownfield sites with nearly 3,000 new houses and over 100,000m2 of office or industrial space being planned. This will lead to further investment in the City.

click to enlarge

Having the trams will create jobs with nearly 1,000 permanent new jobs on the network itself and over 1,000 needed for its construction.

The trams will be fully accessible for the elderly, infirm and parents with children. They will be part of an integrated transport system with integration of tram and bus through timetabling and common ticketing and with bus, train and air interchange points.

(Source: City of Edinburgh Council, 2006)

However, despite the Scottish Parliament having given their approval to the tram system, local residents continue to express concern over the costs involved by writing letters to the Edinburgh Evening News and tying yellow ribbons to trees in protest. However some charities and businesses have come out in support of the proposed tram network with the charities favouring trams on the grounds that they will be less polluting and better for the environment than buses.

Public Health

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What do you think?

You have just been appointed editor of the Edinburgh Evening Post. Your first job is to decide which side the paper will back and then write an editorial column on the tram network that sets out the reasons why.

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